Dear Senator Garagiola -
Sentiment against the death penalty is growing in Maryland. Most Marylanders – over 60% according to polling in recent years – believe that the sentence of life without parole is “an acceptable substitute for the death penalty.” I am one of those Marylanders. I support repeal of the death penalty.
There is ample evidence that Maryland's death penalty is irreparably broken. We have sentenced innocent people to death and that risk is still a reality. Not only are we at risk of executing an innocent person, the death penalty in our state is still reserved for handful of cases where the victim is white. Indeed, every person executed and every prisoner sitting on death row today was condemned for killing a white Marylander. This is particularly disturbing given that three-quarters of murder victims in our state are African American.
The death penalty is as expensive as it is ineffective. There is no evidence that the death penalty deters murder. Crime has gone down in Maryland for the last five years while a defacto moratorium on executions has been in place. Yet capital prosecutions continue to waste our scarce public safety resources, even as juries continue to reject death sentences sought by MD prosecutors. A 2008 study in Maryland found that seeking death almost triples the cost of prosecuting a first-degree murder case.
Enough is enough. I support passage of “Death Penalty Repeal and Appropriation of Savings to Survivors of Homicide Victims” – Maryland's 2013 death penalty repeal legislation that is simultaneously a budget bill that redirects a portion of the immediate savings from repeal to aid murder victims’ families.
Let’s stop wasting Maryland dollars on our discriminatory, error-prone, and wasteful death penalty and make a new commitment to surviving families of homicide victims.
I urge you and all Maryland legislators to work together to bring “Death Penalty and Appropriation of Savings to Survivors of Homicide Victims” to a full vote in the Maryland Senate and House of Delegates and to pass it!